Nearly 100 car sellers on Craigslist were targeted by a scam in the Chicago area that left sellers without their cars and holding rubber checks, the National Insurance Crime Bureau reported last year. In a 2014 case, a young student from Southern California was stabbed to death selling a car he advertised on Craigslist.

Selling your car online is a wonderful convenience, but it’s also become a feeding ground for scammers. The good news is that with a few precautions, you can avoid these traps.

Craigslist, the free, peer-to-peer classifieds website, is where you’ll find most used car bargains — and where con artists try to prey on gullible sellers. The online giant eBayMotors.com also lists used cars for sale or auction but has various purchase protection programs to discourage most types of fraud.

When asked why online car sales attract shady types, Frank Scafidi, public affairs director of the National Insurance Crime Bureau, answered, “In a word, ‘anonymity.’ The internet attracts a lot of positive people, but it also attracts people who try to work their scam and then disappear back into the ether.”

Automotive enthusiast Josh Sadlier, a content strategist for Edmunds.com, has been buying and selling cars on Craigslist for years. He says that he’s never had someone try to cheat him but that he’s developed a “sixth sense for when someone might be shady.” He adds that if he creates a professional-looking ad with accurate information and good photos, it tends to attract serious, knowledgeable buyers.

Despite the occasional, highly publicized crimes involving Craigslist ads, sellers flock to online sites because they want to maximize the value of their used car quickly rather than trading it to a dealer for a lower price. While they may pocket more money, selling online also requires them to meet with strangers and, usually, arrange test drives, exchange cash and sign documents.

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Here are five tips to help you avoid falling prey to an online scammer:

1. Profile the buyer. If your buyer is legit — and reasonable — the sale will flow smoothly. How can you check out a potential buyer without tapping FBI databases? First, speak with the buyer on the phone. Many scammers hide behind bogus email accounts that provide no information about their whereabouts. Ask buyers to give you their phone number and set up a time to chat; the swindlers will quickly disappear.

Exchanging text messages about buying a used car is normal these days, but push for a quick phone chat. As you talk with the potential buyer, pay attention to your intuition. If the buyer makes any unusual requests or if anything makes you uncomfortable, just wait for another buyer.

2. Follow the money. Nearly all online scams stem from some unusual financing request from the buyer. In a popular scam, the fraudulent buyer sends you a check with an additional amount to ship the car. You pay for the shipping, send the car and then the check bounces.

Before agreeing to meet, tell the prospective buyer you accept only cash. If the buyer insists on paying with a cashier’s check, arrange to meet at the bank and watch as a teller handles the payment request.

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3. Don’t be overeager. Many scams work because of “the victim’s own eagerness to close a deal they think is sweet,” Scafidi says. So remember that real buyers will have questions about the car and will probably want to dicker. If you’re selling your car to someone out of the area, expect that person to arrange with a mobile service to inspect the car.

4. Meet in a “safe zone.” Because so many people are arranging physical meetings after connecting over the internet, Scafidi says police departments are creating “safe zones” with video surveillance. These are good places to meet prospective buyers.

Sadlier recommends that you, the seller, choose the meeting place. “You can take a lot of variables out of the equation by insisting on ground rules like that,” he says. “If you feel vulnerable and you’re not an automotive expert, bring a friend who is.”

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If no safe zone is available, meet in a well-lit public place with plenty of people around. Also, if you have any suspicions, ask to see the buyer’s driver’s license before letting him or her drive your car.

5. Avoid buyers with too many stories. Many scams begin with pleas for help or unusual requests such as to ship a car out of the country. In some cases, scammers pose as members of the military to gain sympathy and elicit feelings of patriotism. Avoid all such requests. As Scafidi says, “Slow down, ask questions and don’t become emotionally involved in the sale.”

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What do grocery stores and banks have in common? They’re both hotspots for credit card fraudsters in Texas, according to Rippleshot.

The fraud analytics company compiled a list of the top ten places fraudsters like to spend money and majority of the list includes various types of retail and wholesale stores. However, one of the hotspots confused analysts a bit.

“When we did the top ten list where people… actually go and spend fraudulent cards—grocery stores, home supply warehouse stores, wholesale clubs, department stores, gas stations—none of that was particularly surprising to us,” said Canh Tran, CEO of Rippleshot, a Chicago-based predictive technology provider with a focus on credit cards. “What was, was… federal reserve banks.”

Why would someone use stolen credit card information at a federal reserve bank? ATM access.

“It’s one of the trends we’re seeing in fraud scam,” said Tran. “ATMs and gas stations.”

EMV standard credit cards, otherwise known as cards with a chip, and merchants that require using them present fraudsters with more of a challenge in accessing funds or making purchases. But thanks to ATMs and gas stations these individuals have forged an easy way around this.

“ATMs and gas pumps are huge targets right now for skimming and using counterfeit cards because they have extra time to become EMV compliant,” said Tran. “And fraudsters are absolutely going to go after the low-hanging fruit.”

With the U.S. attempting to fully implement chip use and the growth of online banking, the nature of credit card fraud is constantly changing. Banks now possess the ability to analyze transactions in real time and send immediate alerts about suspicious activity. Meanwhile, fraudsters have mostly let go of traditional acts of committing fraud and focus on online fraud, something Tran expects to see even more of with the spread of chip use.

“What we’ve seen in Europe and Canada is at the beginning, regular merchant fraud goes down. But it turns out that what happens is that online fraud just balloons,” said Tran.

Though online fraud may balloon in the near future, right now some of the top Texas merchants that have been compromised are fast food and other eating/drinking places, gas stations, grocery stores, airlines, and banks.

For merchants, Tran stresses the growing trend and importance cyber data insurance.

“If you’re Target and you get breached, you’ll survive. At the end of the day, you’re big enough,” said Tran. “But a small mom-and-pop store or a small-to-medium sized business that gets breached and it's publicly known, there’s a 60- or 70-percent chance that in the next six months you’ll go out of business.”

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This is the place to stay! Gang operating sophisticated credit card fraud swindle

The gang, which is made of three men and a woman, are using cloned and stolen cards to steal high-end goods.

A credit card fraud has been swindled out of Ireland in recent days.

The gang, which is made of three men and a woman, are using cloned and stolen cards to steal high-end goods.

The city has a lot to offer.

Gardai in Letterkenny estimate that more than € 20,000 in laptop computers, phones, jewellery and perfumes.

Another spade of robberies using cloned cards took place across Dublin, including Grafton Street, on Friday afternoon last.

A Garda source revealed how a jewelery store in Dublin had € 5,000 worth of goods taken by the gang.

It is understood the cloned cards belong to wealthy card owners whose banks are not 'red flag'.

The cards are used in the last few years.

The gang is highly mobile and uses both public transport and private cars between shops.

They are located in the center of the city.

Sgt Paul Wallace, Crime Prevention Officer, Co Donegal,

"It's not a coincidence."

"We are appealing to the needs of our customers.

"If they are unsure of checks, they should consult the safecard.ie website.

"This gang and other gangs operate in this area are highly organized, confident and know exactly what they are.

"And they are also targeting young people who are in the process of doing so."

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